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Major change in American politics takes place when an old political order collapses and a new one emerges to replace it, sometimes through violent struggle. Before the Civil War and Reconstruction, for example, states enjoyed autonomy over most areas of politics–including whether or not to maintain slavery. Afterwards, the Federal Government began to assert itself vis-á-vis civil rights and liberties in ways it had never previously done. Relatedly, before the Great Depression, state government basically managed their own economies; but the New Deal gave the federal government power to create and manage a new, national economy. What are the deep sources of these architectonic changes? Who or what is responsible for them? And what is the best way to study them? This course will survey the alternative and competing ways in which leading thinkers and scholars answer these questions. Some argue that dynamic individuals–such as Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt–drive political change, and that change would not happen without such leaders. Others contend that these so-called “leaders” are themselves mere bi-products of impersonal forces, such as party realignments, critical elections, and social, economic, and technological changes. Our goal will be to understand these theories on their own terms, and then to evaluate them with reference to some case studies from American history. To this end, we will study theoretical writings but we will also read selections from histories and biographies that draw a more intimate, nuanced picture of the leaders, groups, and personalities involved in America’s most transformative political moments.
Format: seminar; This course will be hybrid, combining elements of synchronous meetings and asynchronous content so as to allow both in-person and remote students to participate.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
weekly writing assignments, a medium-length essay, and the option either to write a second medium-length essay or to develop the first essay into a longer research paper
previous course in Leadership Studies, American politics, or American history
Leadership Studies concentrators and Political Science majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
Each student will write a critical essay responding to a particular day's reading assignment, with the option to rewrite. Students will write a 10-12 page research paper on a topic they will have discussed with me. For the final assessment, students will have the option either to write a second 10-12 page research paper on a topic different from the first, or to expand their original paper into a 25-30 page research essay. I will provide written feedback regarding grammar, style, and argument.
LEAD American Domestic Leadership